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CIA director met Zelensky in Kyiv as Russian missiles focused capital

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CIA Director William J. Burns met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Tuesday, reaffirming U.S. help for the nation on the identical day Russian missiles pummeled the capital and despatched residents fleeing for canopy.

The go to got here at a second of Ukrainian triumph, days after its forces liberated the town of Kherson and Zelensky declared a turning level within the struggle. But it was a second of extraordinary pressure and uncertainty, as effectively, as a Russian-made missile appeared to land in Poland, elevating the query of how the NATO alliance would possibly reply to a attainable assault on a member state.

Burns, whom President Biden usually has dispatched to talk with Russian and Ukrainian leaders, additionally met along with his Ukrainian intelligence counterparts and mentioned a U.S. warning he had delivered on Monday to the top of Russia’s overseas intelligence service “not to use nuclear weapons” in its struggle on Ukraine, in keeping with a U.S. official who spoke on the situation of anonymity to explain the delicate discussions.

Burns had met with the Russian official, SVR Director Sergei Naryshkin, in Ankara.

Two useless in Poland as Ukraine struggle spills into NATO territory

In Kyiv, Burns “reinforced the U.S. commitment to provide support to Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression,” the official stated. The director was safely contained in the U.S. Embassy through the missile strikes, the official famous.

There was no indication the Russian assaults have been meant to coincide with Burns’s go to. Russian media disclosed his go to to Ankara, in what has turn into a routine apply of publicizing Russian officers’ conferences with the CIA director, who usually retains his journey schedule personal.

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Burns, a seasoned diplomat and former ambassador to Russia, went to Moscow final November and met with prime Kremlin officers, talking by cellphone with President Vladimir Putin. He carried a letter from Biden to Putin and warned the Russian president that ought to he invade Ukraine, the United States would impose large penalties.

Burns has cautioned that officers should be on guard to Putin’s threats to make use of tactical nuclear weapons. “We have to take very seriously [any] kind of threats given everything that’s at stake,” Burns stated in an interview with CBS News’s Norah O’Donnell in late September. “And, you know, the rhetoric that he and other senior Russian leaders have used is reckless and deeply irresponsible.”

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Burns added that U.S. intelligence companies had not but seen “any practical evidence” that Putin was transferring nearer to utilizing nuclear weapons. That has been the case over the course of the struggle, with Putin making threats that officers say aren’t mirrored in sings that Russia is deploying the tools and personnel needed to make use of such weapons on the battlefield.

Tuesday’s missile strikes on Kyiv adopted a two-week lull, and initially many residents ignored them. When explosions reverberated across the metropolis, individuals sought shelter in basements and corridors.

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated that “Russian aircraft” had fired the missiles, noting that “for the duration of this campaign, Russia has used a mix of capabilities,” together with airborne, ground-based and sea-launched missiles, to focus on cities and civilian infrastructure.

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On Monday, Zelensky visited Kherson, the only regional capital that Russia had captured and held following its invasion in February. He declared to a whole lot of individuals gathered within the central sq. that the town’s liberation marked “the beginning of the end of the war” and pledged that Ukrainian forces would to drive Russia from the nation solely.

Liz Sly in Kyiv, Ukraine, and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

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